This is the second week of Andrew and my 2 weeks in the Mara (check out Andrew’s trip report from week 1 here) , and as you have probably read from the first weeks report wildebeest were not around as we hoped for. Due to all the rain and the green grass their movements were not as we expected. But hey we still had an amazing week with one great crossing. This week’s cat sightings were also completely out of this world with around 60 different lions , 5 Cheetah and 7 Leopard.
In my books that is definitely an above average safari.
Our guests started of with the famous lion scar and his females on a zebra kill straight from the airstrip. What a way to kick of your safari.
Everybody went back to camp for a very warm welcome by the Wild-Eye family and a hearty lunch prepared by Chef Pascal and Chef Joseph.
Most days we had lunch in camp but had the option to stay out and get lunch brought out to us by Isaac and the team. The flexibility at the Wild-Eye camp is amazing and really adds so much value to the whole experience.
On our first afternoon after lunch we headed out with dark clouds looming in the south. We knew where a female cheetah was in a lugga (drainage line) not far from camp and went straight there with the hope of photographing her in the rain. And we weren’t disappointed. It was a great opportunity for guests to practice shooting in the rain. We ended up with an amazing sunset and two leopards before heading back to camp.
Our evenings in camp started of with guests downloading images of the day and then we did some Lightroom work before dinner. Some evenings when it was raining we carried on with Lightroom after dinner as well but we did not forget to sit around the fire sharing stories of the day or just getting to know each other. That fire pit is one of the best !!
The mornings started with a wake up call from either Salash or Cassino at 5:15 while Dickson was waiting for everybody with a cup of hot coffee or Kenyan Chai tea.
We headed out at 6:30 in the mornings.
On the second morning we headed straight to the other side of the Mara River to go and try and find the big herds of wildebeest. An African rock python interrupted our search so we stopped for a quick session with this beautiful specimen. On our mission to explore we did find huge numbers of wildebeest and drove towards them through a lugga with really big trees. Jimmy then spotted at a leopard in a tree with the remains of a wildebeest. The huge herds were grazing maybe 200 m away from the lugga so the leopard had lots of food around.
This was a young leopard and it was special spending time with him. We sat there for quite a while then suddenly he started staring towards the wildebeest and we spotted his mother dragging another carcass closer to the lugga. It was amazing for all the guests and the fact that it was again only our vehicles till almost the end was extra special.
We stopped for breakfast under a big Ballanite tree and just relaxed for a bit. Heading back to camp we had quite a drive. We bumped into two big male lions, and after we crossed the Mara River again we bumped into more lions hunting zebra. Wow what a day we had. Late afternoon we thought we would just go and photograph the sunset just beyond camp because how can this day get any better. And as we turned of to camp after the sunset a leopard was lying on top of a termite mound posing especially for us.
The next morning we decided to go across to the other side of the river for a potential crossing. We rushed over keeping an eye on the big herds and bypassed 2 prides of lions to get to the river. Now the waiting game started. We were in position and ready to go. So after quite a long wait we decided to go for a leg stretch and breakfast. Just as we finished breakfast the wildebeest moved down to the river and that was our queue. We moved down to get the most incredible positions where we could see the entrance and the exit of the wildebeest. All our guests got the most amazing images.
When the crossing was done and everybody in very high spirits we decided to go to the Purungat Bridge where hundreds of vultures were feeding on wildebeest carcasses. One of our guests Gerry Armstrong really enjoyed this exercise and he got some stunning vulture images.
After lunch we headed out again to go and work the luggas around camp and we found a small pride of lions. We could see the dark clouds were building up again and we made the call to stay with these lions with the hope it will rain lots. It was only myself and Gerry Armstrong. Gerry got some unbelievable shots of these lions in the rain.
Andrew and the other vehicles went to the Tanzanian border where they found a male lion eating an Eland. Just before they left a massive group of hyena started harassing the lion and the images the guests got are just out of this world. So all and all everybody had a fantastic afternoon.
Shortly after we left camp the next morning we saw a female leopard running away from a big male right in front of our vehicle, so not a bad start to the day.
This was the beginning to cats day as we stumbled upon 3 different prides of lion next.
We were also lucky enough to witness a short fight between two hippo bulls.
As we left the river we got the call that Scar had been located. We made the call to go and spend the whole day with him as he was sleeping in the open close to the river. We sat with him from just after 11:00 till 18:00 and he did put up quite the performance and everybody got some fabulous images.
We did have plenty of showers in the late afternoons and evenings. There is nothing better then lying in bed with the rain falling on your tent next to the Mara River while you sleep.
Everyday was filled with great cat sightings from sleeping cats to cats hunting or playing. The pride just north of Kiboko, “Bob Marley and the whalers “ as we got to know them, gave us plenty opportunity to photograph them with the cubs and the 2 big males.
I definitely think the highlight of the week besides the good crossing were the lion sighting of the last evening. We went looking for a leopard but instead found the Bob Marley pride with all of the females and youngsters on top of a termite mound with very dark grey sky behind them. We photographed them from all angles and in the rain. When the rain stopped we moved over to the big male and not long after we left all the youngsters and females joined the big guy. The youngsters spotted some impala and immediately started stalking them but the females kept a very close eye on their movement and called them back when they got to far. It was incredible to witness the skills of those young lions and how they mimic the actions of their mothers.
After all the excitement we went back to camp where Dickson and the guys prepared a traditional Masai evening for us.
The Wild-Eye safari experience gives so much more then just great wildlife experiences.
On the last day we headed out on safari with a packed breakfast as our flight only left at 16:00 in the afternoon. We had plenty of time to go back for lunch, pack and say goodbye to everyone. We spent our last morning with a female cheetah as she hunted some Oribi. She was unsuccessful but great to watch.
What an end to a really awesome week!!
It is always sad leaving the Wild-Eye camp and saying goodbye to all those wonderful people.
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